Jul 14, 2017Cuts Threaten Athletic Trainer Coverage
State budget cuts that eliminated $2.4 million yearly funding to the University of South Florida’s Sports Medicine and Athletic Related Trauma Institute could leave many high school schools in Hillsborough County without athletic trainers.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the institute will do what it can to provide athletic trainers for local high schools, but may not be able to provide the level of staffing the schools have become used to. Mark Walsh, assistant vice-president for government relations for USF, said that while SMART asked for the funding to be reinstated, for now, it will have to decide what services are still feasible for it to offer.
“I think what we’re trying to do internally now is determine, after the veto, which services we can fund out of other sources, and which things need to be absorbed by other places, and which things may go entirely,” Walsh said. “I don’t know that any of those decisions have been completely determined at this point.”
The Times also reports a similar situation in nearby Pasco County, where Florida Hospital has announced that it was no longer able to provide athletic trainers for all games. Kurt Browning, superintendent for Pasco County, said he intended to continue providing athletic trainers, even though doing so could increase the district’s funding shortfall by $125,000.
According to Erik Nason, president of the Athletic Trainers’ Association of Florida, out of 663 Florida schools with sports programs, 219 have full-time trainers and 211 have part-time trainers. He said he believed athletic trainers should be mandatory for schools with sports programs.
“Typically, we are the cherry on top when we provide safety and care to an athlete,” Nason said. “But the athletic trainers also are the first thing that go if there’s a budget cut, and that’s incorrect.”